Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
She stands there in the street, head cocked to one side, hair in disarray. I pause to watch what happens next. These ‘no loitering’ walkways are still new to smaller towns.
A patrol drone rolls up next to her. It beeps in what’s supposed to be an authoritative manner, but still sounds like a cheap toy.
“I’m sorry, I was listening to Odin.”
It beeps again.
“Yes, yes. He said you’d be insistent. It’s your mother, isn’t it? She’ll be fine. You have to stop worrying, and you need to stop taking it out on people you find contravening the urban behaviour rules. That’s just bullying, you know?”
The drone spins about and careens away.
“That was amazing. How did you do that?”
Her eyes find mine. It’s like a voltage runs from my eyes to my toes and back through my heart. Blue like Antarctic ice, distant as the sky. Then she blinks, the blue turns to that of a tropical lagoon, and the shock runs through me again.
She raises a finger. Nods, whispers something, then lowers her hand.
“I didn’t. He did. He knows. But not everything. Says that would be cheating. He can only know everything about one thing at a time. That’s one of the staves he set upon himself.”
I see we’re near a coffee shop. I’ll call this as ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and work through my break to make up.
“Can I get us a coffee while you explain?”
She nods, pirouettes, and rushes off towards the coffee shop. I stroll after her, trying to look casual.
By the time I get there, she’s sitting at a table eating a sticky bun. There’s another sticky bun on a plate opposite.
“Your coffee will be here soon.”
“How do you know what I like?”
“He told me.”
This could get irritating.
“Really? So he knew all about me for a while?”
Okay. You’re enchanting, and I could drown in your eyes. Let’s play.
“Did he keep it all to himself or did he tell you anything?”
“He warned me my eyes weren’t the right shade of blue. Told me which way you’d walk to work today.”
“Too easy. You got someone to run an online preference profile.”
“Your father left the keys to the toolbox on the windowsill above the freezer. The cat knocked them down. They fell and got caught inside the crossbar at the back of the freezer. That’s why you can’t find them.”
I’ve searched everywhere since he died!
Deep breath. Pause. Now say something.
“So you… No, ‘he’ says. What’s with the Odin advising you act, anyway?”
“He’s always been there, ever since mum introduced me to him. Said it was a boon those of our bloodline get.”
“Odin’s talking to a towheaded girl in a baggy white jumper, silver leggings, and army boots?”
A huge smile crosses her face. I feel myself grinning in response.
“You should be more worried about why he’s talking to me about you.”
Actually, that is disturbing.
“Did he tell you?”
“Can you tell me?”
She leans forward conspiratorially.
“A power cable fell from the pylon outside your work. If you’d arrived on time, you’d have been electrocuted and crushed.”
The smile returns.
“No, what’s insane is you’re sitting here on your own, this Valkyrie’s stolen your bun, and my boss has got plans for you. Good luck.”
She vanishes, leaving two empty plates.
A long, blue feather drifts down and alights on the back of my hand.
There’s that shock again.